Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess glycemic control and complications of type 1 diabetes in children and adolescents in Tanzania.
Research design and methods: This demographic and clinical survey included 99 children aged between 5 and 18 years attending Muhimbili National Hospital Clinic for Diabetes. A structured questionnaire was used for evaluating socioeconomic data and for estimation of the prevalence of acute complications occurring over the last 6 months. The prevalences of retinopathy and diabetic nephropathy were determined by fundus ophthalmoscopy and by microalbuminuria, respectively.
Results: All of these children were treated with a conventional insulin regimen. The mean +/- SD duration of diabetes was 4.76 +/- 3.58 years. Only 1 child (1%) had good glycemic control (A1C <7.5%), 60 children (60.6%) had moderate glycemic control (A1C 7.5-10%), 14 children (14.1%) had poor glycemic control (A1C >10-12.5%), and 24 children (24.2%) had very poor glycemic control (A1C >12.5%). At onset of diabetes, 75% of children presented with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA); 89 children (89.80%) had at least one episode of DKA, and 55 children (55.67%) had symptomatic hypoglycemic episodes. Microalbuminuria was present in 29 (29.3%) and retinopathy in 22 (22.68%) children.
Conclusions: Although there are some methodological limitations, this survey highlights the difficulties of achieving good metabolic control and the high prevalence of acute and chronic complications in Tanzanian children with type 1 diabetes. These results clearly show that major efforts are needed to improve quality of care in children with type 1 diabetes in Tanzania.